By on April 8, 2020

The question haunting every industry exec’s mind is: how long does it last? Few can hazard a guess, what with the coronavirus pandemic spreading through global markets at an uneven speed, with uneven impacts (in part brought on by uneven government responses).

Last week, analysts at J.D. Power issued best- and worst-case forecasts for the coming months and year in the U.S. market. This week, we got a snapshot of how the pandemic has upset markets overseas.

You just read about the return to something approaching normalcy in the Chinese new car market, brought on by the recent easing of quarantine measures across the nation — especially in the pandemic’s epicenter of Wuhan. Stats from J.D. Power’s weekly webinar show that progression, but they also show the distance left to go before consumers in that country return the kind of sales dealers are used to.

At the height of China’s epidemic (the first week of February), dealerships recorded a 96-percent drop in sales versus normal volume. As of April 3rd, 99 percent of the country’s dealerships had reopened, but dealer traffic amounted to only 66 percent of normal levels.

In the first half of March, new vehicle sales in China had recovered by half, down only 47 percent, year over year.

While the pandemic’s arrival in Europe came a month after it first spread through China’s manufacturing heartland, the impact on new vehicle sales, depending on country, was almost as severe. Sales fell 85 percent, year over year, in Italy last month. Spain, nearly as hard hit as its Mediterranean neighbor, saw monthly sales fall 69 percent in March. France’s tally was 72 percent below 2019 figures.

The virus spread north from Europe’s Italian epicenter, prompting stay-at-home orders and business closures at a later date than in the south. Still, UK sales dropped 44 percent in March. In Germany, which has fared relatively well thus far, new vehicle volume saw a 38-percent year-over-year drop last month.

Auto plants in that region are, like those in North America, offline.

On this side of the Atlantic, March’s U.S. sales tally showed a 41-percent decline for the month. However, that number masks the quick progression towards zero seen in the latter half of the month. The week ending March 29th saw U.S. retail sales down 79 percent, year over year. One week later, on April 5th, sales were off 84 percent from last year.

Some large markets, like hardest-hit New York City and the Detroit metro area, are almost completely devoid of sales. As of today, only 24 states, comprising 44 percent of 2019’s sales volume, are allowing dealerships to open their doors to the public. The rest is a mishmash of online or remote sales, or no sales at all.

“The weak exit rate from March combined with late arriving stay-home orders in many states means the industry still has yet to reach the bottom,” J.D. Power stated, noting that, thus far in April, the top 25 markets in the U.S. are showing declines of at least 50 percent.

[Image: Audi]

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40 Comments on “Global Sales Impact of COVID-19 Is Staggering...”

  • avatar

    Don’t worry, the stimulus will likely lead to a fair number of new “work trucks” paid for by tax-payers….

    • 0 avatar

      yeah, that $1200 may just be enough to cover a chrome package on that $30k “work truck”

      • 0 avatar

        1200 is for working slobs, payroll grants are where it’s at.

        • 0 avatar

          We shall see. I’m a small business owner who has never borrow a dime from the SBA or looked for a grant. All the programs you are hearing about sound like they might help us keep the doors open, but actually getting an application filed and the money in the bank is proving elusive. The federal reserve is showering big boys with mega bucks, but the small business support is so far all an illusion.

          • 0 avatar

            well, the “council to reopen America” is Mark Meadows, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Robert Lighthizer, and Wilbur Ross, so you know how worried they are about you.

            That is, “not at all.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Passenger to pilot of stricken aircraft: “How far will it fly?”

    Pilot: “All the way to the crash site!”

  • avatar

    Unemployment claims have surged from 250,000 to 3 million to 10 million in the past two weeks. Bloomberg estimates the number of April claims could be 20 million, and Vox has provided charts that show 35 million jobs at stake in the areas most affected by coronavirus. With a national workforce of around 150 million people, that gets us to a 20 percent unemployment rate — Great Depression levels.

    • 0 avatar

      “Unemployment rates – Great Depression levels” There has been debate by business leaders, economists, and politicians as to whether or not another Great Depression will occur. I suspect that things will flow much more smoothly once COVID-45 joins the ranks of the unemployed.

      • 0 avatar

        Well done, Lou_BC. Quite clever!

      • 0 avatar

        I see TDS infections are still active.

        • 0 avatar

          the only deranged ones here are people like you, who have pledged fealty to one man. Which- I might add- is about the most anti-American thing you can do. ~240 years ago we swore off kings for a reason, and it’s pretty damn disgusting that some people (like you) want to bring them back.

          “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

          ― Theodore Roosevelt

          • 0 avatar


            I have been an opponent of the quarantine from the beginning. Whose policy is that? Now we have Lou making unemployment jokes and blithely blowing off the possibility of an economic catastrophe. Ha. Ha. Great Depression. Whatever. As long as we get rid of evil Trump. The left is giddy that we are destroying our economy because they see in it an opportunity to get rid of the president. That is truly deranged.

            All from the same people who were terrified, panicked and flew into hysterics over this virus.

          • 0 avatar

            @thelaine – One again you demonstrate a lack of comprehension. I pointed out the fact that there is debate as to whether a depression will occur. Most believe that a depression will occur if tariffs and trade barriers are put in place. (Just like wht happened in the “Great Depression”.
            The only “joke” was about a “joke” who happens to lead your country. Here is a tidbit of reality, if COVID 45 would have done his job the USA would not be facing as severe a crisis. My province has already flattened the curve and in the next week there is to a be a plan released to the public about a phased return to “normalcy”.
            You still believe the “let ‘er rip, let ’em die” philosophy where the economy is more important than human life. People can survive a depression. Loosing millions of lives is not an option for most of us. I can live without a cell phone, big screen TV or new pickup truck.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            We have examples of what works. And as Lou has pointed out the province of BC is a prime example.

            And we have examples of what does not work. And many of these are states with Republican governors.

            And what was the richest nation on earth, which is suffering due to the lack of intellectual comprehension demonstrated by its President.

            As for another Great Depression. Economists understand how to prevent a similar occurrence. The implementation of social safety nets and Keynsian economic policies.

            Unfortunately the USA is behind most other 1st world nations in regards to ‘safety nets’ for those below retirement age and the current POTUS has increased the federal deficit at a record level, making Keynsian government spending stimulus more problematic.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re just cranky Trump is your President for the next 5 years.

        • 0 avatar

          “Aside from New York, nationally there’s been no health system crisis. In fact, to be truly correct there has been a health system crisis, but the crisis is that the hospitals are empty,” he said. “This is true in Florida where the lockdown was late, this is true in southern California where the lockdown was early, it’s true in Oklahoma where there is no statewide lockdown. There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between the lockdown and whether or not the epidemic has spread wide and fast.”

          The drop in cases seen in various states has come before lockdowns would have had an impact — since it takes a few weeks for social distancing measures to take effect due to the window between infection and symptoms.

          The inability to look at the facts and weigh the risks is due to panic, fear and hysteria.

          Between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year, according to the CDC. Do we panic and shut down the economy?

          People should be deeply ashamed. Actions have consequences.

          • 0 avatar

            The original IMHE models included a full-shutdown as part of their mass-death predictions.

            It was wrong in real-time, embarrassingly so; that’s why it’s been updated. (It’s still wrong.)

          • 0 avatar

            Covid-19 is currently killing over 2,000 people per day in the USA, making it the #1 cause of death now. This is not the flu.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, a gang of loonies has arrived. How adorable. The Canadian Smug is thick in here. I hope you all pray to your ObamaJesus that you never become poor. Obama forbid. Poverty is worse than any of you comfortable coronadeathwatch experts can possibly imagine. No issue for you, though, since the people who are currently being crushed by this panicked overreaction are the ones closest to complete ruin: the lower middle class and working poor. Yeah, I know, you want to just give them more welfare. It shows your compassion, or something.

        As for “let ‘er rip,” I would love to see where you got that. Certainly not from me. It is so predictable that a leftist will completely fail to understand an argument to which they have a negative emotional reaction and turn it into a cartoon-like caricature. That is how children see the world. I have consistently made a risk-management argument which weighs the economic risk vs the risk from the virus. It is obviously beyond you to comprehend this, and so you give it a name you can understand.

        All of the doomsday models regarding this virus have been proven incorrect, by orders of magnitude. As we continue to get more information, more and more people are coming to the same conclusion. We did not have to slam the brakes on the best economy in our lifetimes in order to fight this virus.

        Unemployment and poverty are also brutal and deadly, but if you are by default a smug Canadian who has become terrified and hysterical over a virus and at the same time has never been poor and never expects to be poor, what the hell do you care? As a leftist, you think with your emotions, like a 12 year old, and that is all that matters. You live in a comic book, where you are a good guy, and a sensible, mild-mannered Canadian.

        For those you who elected a bony, vacuous, “Bollywood Bridegroom” narcissist and who also worshiped the last bony faculty-lounge know-it-all narcissist US president, please don’t complain that the current US president is an ignorant narcissist, or I will complain that you are a smug, clueless hypocrite.

        Also, for those of you who couldn’t care less about the unemployed as long as you don’t get infected with a virus, and are delighted with the own-goal economic collapse because you think it will cause Trump to lose the election (so… all of you), you will soon be crying in your skunkie, overpriced Canadian beer. Get used to him. He is getting another four years. Sundown Joe is not going to beat Trump.

        • 0 avatar

          America is suffering from a vast and severe decline due to the shutdown measures. State mandates have destroyed businesses and the lives of common working people. Millions of Americans are now furloughed, unemployed, or have experienced significantly decreased hours and wages. Many will never return to their jobs, and their careers and aspirations are shattered. It is estimated that up to 25 percent of all temporarily closed restaurants will never reopen unless the shutdown mandates are lifted this month. Families who have spent decades building their businesses may be forced to permanently close due to lack of cash flow.

        • 0 avatar

          @thelaine – LOL.

          It is easier to attach labels upon those who disagree with one’s opinion than it it is to actually understand what is going on. You make it sound like I’m some sort of out of touch wealthy guy. MY dad survived the Great Depression. I worked 2 jobs to put myself through college. I’ve worked 2 jobs most of my life.
          I’ve seen suffering and death all to often over my professional career and those at the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum suffer the worst.

          Yes, people are afraid of loosing everything they have worked for, even in Canada but that fear is less here because we actually have social safety nets in place. Most of us don’t view healthcare as a “for profit” exercise. We try to provide for our poor and unemployed.

          “Between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year, according to the CDC.”

          Please note the “each year” part of your statistics.

          The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic started the tail end of 2019. We are only 5 months into this and this virus is just starting to hit poor countries.

          Being “smug” means having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements. “Smug” fits COVID-45 perfectly…. being a stable genius, and people are surprised that he gets this stuff and “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear” but hey, it ain’t disappearing. But “Anyone who wants a test can get one”.The US was “most prepared country in the world” but has the highest infection and death rates.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @TheLaine these are the only pertinent statistics and they prove the folly of your statements. 1) The USA has 4.4% of the worlds population yet has 20% of the covid cases. 2) By the time the pandemic is over it will have killed more Americans than the Vietnam War. Due solely to the incompetence of the current POTUS. Many of those deaths cold have been avoided.

          • 0 avatar

            What in the world is this government thinking imposing a fresh tax on fuel in the middle of an economic and health crisis? Our entire economy is nearly in paralysis, hundreds of thousands, even millions of Canadians are under the whip of economic devastation, the country is going into massive debt.

            Who with the wit of a stone or a heap of moss thinks this is the time for a new tax on a necessity? Who thinks that raising the price of gasoline for the truckers who keep the supermarkets stocked, kerosene for farmers who are coping with a wet harvest, or fuel for any business that happens to still be trying to operate, is an idea whose time has come?

            – National Post, Canada

          • 0 avatar

            In the words of Lou, “LOL” Art.

            You hate Trump. I get it. You hated him before he was elected. You think he is corrupt and incompetent. You believe he is a Russian stooge. You believe he profits from his position and on and on.

            Now we have a virus and you think he has done a bad job. I get it. You hate Trump. If he cured cancer, you would bich about unemployed oncologists. Your arguments are superficial and childish, as they are just expressions of your FEELINGS.

            You love the coronadeathwatch numbers, but you ignore the economic devastation and its effects. You will get around to that later, when you are blaming Trump for the bad economy. Hope you enjoy it. You are going to get a four-year hate extension.

          • 0 avatar

            LOL LOU,

            Great, Lou. You worked two jobs and you have observed someone who is poor. Also, someone in your family history was alive when a lot of other people were poor. Credentials accepted.

            “Covid-45” is not a label? So what if the president is smug? I don’t care. Is your prime minister an embarrassing vacuous narcissist who dresses like a Bollywood bridegroom? Don’t throw stones across the border.

            The “social safety net,” which is leftspeak for welfare, is not a substitute for a job. I know the CBC won’t report it, but unemployed people in the US don’t starve to death.

            You don’t understand, because, college-boy, you cannot possibly understand. You think it is OK to protect you and yours from a virus at the expense of the jobs of the people at the bottom, because you can just give ’em more welfare. Well, you are wrong. Welfare destroys entire communities.

            Here’s the thing: we didn’t have to lock down the economy in order to fight this thing.

            Do you want PROOF that I am right? I guarantee you will never see us do it again in your long lifetime, in response to ANY virus or ANY other national emergency. We will “target” our response to vulnerable populations and we will let people go to freakin work, so we can support our life-sustaining economy.

            You Smugnadians are wrong. The general shutdown was an over reaction which did more harm than good.

            As for Trump; embrace the hate, young Jedi. It will make you more powerful than you could ever imagine.


          • 0 avatar

            @thelaine – The attempt at deflection by posting stuff about Canada and pretty boy Trudeau are laughable. BTW, I didn’t vote for him or his party so what’s your point? Oh yeah, you don’t have a point.
            Fuel tax increases was set pre-COVID-19. So, again, what’s your point?
            Welfare is a safety net and yes, working people don’t need welfare but right now, working people aren’t working.
            “You worked two jobs and you have observed someone who is poor.”
            Ironically you miss the whole point of that part of the post. I worked hard to pull myself out of a life of low end insecure jobs. My brother also worked hard and rose through the ranks of his company to become a capital projects manager pulling in 6 figures. Isn’t that the American Dream? Work hard and succeed!
            I have a lot of friends who are statistically “the working poor”. Their choice, not mine.

            The USA is structured in such a way that the poor is neglected. That fact is reflected in your death rates. The poor and racial minorities make up a disproportional amount of deaths from COVID-19.

            You are angry and frustrated, I get it. You are afraid. I get that too. You voted for COVID-45. He has made this worse. That is rather unfortunate.

            ” We will “target” our response to vulnerable populations and we will let people go to freakin work, so we can support our life-sustaining economy.”
            If that is the correct approach, why haven’t any other countries done that?
            Who are the “vulnerable populations?” At least in your eyes?

            I do appreciate the fact that you are trying to rationalize your point of view.

          • 0 avatar


            this is why this country is going down the tubes. Having an education is something worthy of derision.

  • avatar

    This is painful but letting the worst of them die is essential now. They were propped up previously but now is the time to take the pain. It’s better to just give unemployment benefits to the workers until other makers come in and take over those factories. Which are owned by the states really after decades of subsidies.

  • avatar

    Yet I’m seeing prices go up.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      I follow the prices on SIlverado trucks. I too have noticed an increase in the MSRP of about $5,000.00 to $6,000.00 in two years from when I purchased my 2018 Silverado.

      However-the widely advertised prices on all half-tons in Dealer’s inventory are not reflecting that big of an increase.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Government will just print more money and inflation will eat up the debt just like it did during the 70s. Prices will eventually double but I doubt wages will. History has away of repeating itself although not exactly in the same way.

  • avatar

    Here’s a nice animation of a cough in a store environment:

    (In my particular area, social distancing is [even] more important this week than it was a couple weeks ago [and many aren’t taking it very seriously].)

  • avatar

    ToolGuy – “a nice animation of a cough in a store environment:”

    this will scare the bejusus outta the grocery store shoppers and workers that are just now trying to take a stand for work place safety, attention Walmart workers/shoppers!

    • 0 avatar

      Now you know why they are recommending people wear masks around others. Publix (grocery store chain in the south) is adding sneeze guards to its registers and making all the isles one-way only so people aren’t facing each other as they shop. They call it “catching a cold” for a reason.

      • 0 avatar

        Publix here in Tennessee has already added a sneeze guard at
        the main desk, I wish I could post a picture of it, it’s a joke, one piece of plexiglass on the L/H side and one on the R/H side with
        the center open so that you are within face to face contact with the front desk person, nothing at the checkout counters yet! So a sneeze, cough or hand touch is just a few feet away!Also, no mask required for any of the workers.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In Ontario are Premier was previously regarded as something of a Trump ‘wannabe’. That has now changed, and even the left wing press are applauding his actions.

    He personally and without informing the press or his staff went and picked up 30,000 masks on a weekend to bring to a hospital.

    He reads out the prediction numbers rather than letting others. He differs to the Public Health Authorities.

    He has praised the efforts of politicians from other parties, members of the press and even his ASL interpreter. Rather than trying to blame others.

    And he has implemented regulations recommended by public health, closing all non-essential services/stores.

    In Ontario grocery stores we have a) limited the number of shoppers allowed at any one time, b) decreased shopping hours to allow for more time for sanitizing/restocking, c) some stores have implemented curbside pick-up, d) most stores have installed ‘sneeze guard’ plexiglass screens at the checkouts, e) implemented fines/charges for stores found to be ‘price gouging’, f) implemented restrictions on the maximum number of some goods purchased, g) now generally allow only one shopper per family, h) many stores have gone to tap only payments. We have also seen an enormous increase in grocery delivery services.

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